Ganger Capitalism

Sat Apr 8 06:17:35 PDT 2000

In a message dated 00-04-08 02:37:29 EDT, you write:

<< There can't be any capitalism without corruption. The rule of law and

going by the book take too much time & are inefficient. Too much

corruption is inefficient, too, so what the system needs is just the right

amount of corruption to oil the machinery of the state & civil society.

Hard to come by in the periphery.

More specifically with regard to post-socialist societies, primitive

accumulation = gangster capitalism.


I like my comrades Nancy Holmstrom and Richard Smith, whom you quote here at length from MR, probably in violation of their copyright or MR's, and respect their analysis, although I do not always agree with it. Howeverr, I am not sure I wholly agree with your characterization of their claims, or maybe with the complete truth of what you say here.

First, it is true that there is an optiminally efficient amount of corruption, but this is true in any society. (The optimal amount of corruption is not the same in every society or within every society at every time. of course). The former socialist societies were infamously corrupt, far from optimally so; Konstantin Siminis wrote a fine expose of the FSU called The Corrupt Society. There is no reason to think thata more democratic socialist society will not have an optimal amount of corruption.

Perhaps you think that it would be lower compared to capitalsim, but you can't compare anything to "capitalism" generally. Do you mean, Russian "kapitalizm'," Italian social dermocracy--and even there, do you mean, Bologna (fairly honest) or Sardinia (utterly rotten); do you mean Chicago (ha ha ha) or the US as a whole (not awful); etc. In fact, I would surmise that there is a tendency of capitalsim in mature and advanced societies to gety less corrupt, and thsi is part of Richards & Nancy's point.

Second, Russian gangster "kapitalizm" is not real primitive accumulation. It is jsu plain theft of state property, almost wholly unproductive. China might be different, I do not know enough. But if your model of primitive accumulation is the Englsih Enclosure movement, or the robber baron capitalism of 19th century America, "kapitalizm" falls far short of that. The enclosers and the robber barons stole, but they also built. You can't say that for Boris B and the Russian oligarchs. They are jut crooks.


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